Gardening Question of the Day

How can I get rid of the squash bugs in my garden?

Try keeping a hand-sprayer filled with insecticidal soap handy. Check the plants daily and spray adults at the first appearance of any bugs. Continue checking throughout the growing season and spray both the adults and nymphs. Unfortunately, the spray will not kill the eggs, so you may have to resort to "squashing" them between two hard surfaces. You may also want to avoid deep, cool mulches like straw or hay that provide an environment that these bugs seem to love. In the fall, be sure to burn or compost old squash vines to rid your garden of any possible shelters for breeding and over-wintering.

Last 7 Days

    What kind of cherry tree can I get to cross-pollinate with my 'Black Tartarian' tree?

    Your best choice would be a 'Yellow Napoleon' or 'Red Windsor' cherry tree. Your 'Black Tartarian' tree also is needed to pollinate many other varieties, such as 'Lambert', 'Napoleon', and 'Bing' cherries.

    How should I store my potatoes and beets after I harvest them? I don't have a root cellar.

    First, make sure you brush off any soil clinging to these crops, then store them in a cool, dry place. An unheated closet might do, or put them in a cooler in your basement. Clipping the tops off the beets will keep them fresh longer. Don't store potatoes with apples, as apples give off ethylene gas, which will spoil the potatoes.

    My father said that if you dig a hole during a certain phase of the Moon and then fill it back up, there won't be enough dirt to fill the hole. At other times, there will be too much dirt. Can you provide more information?

    We've heard similar stories, but we were unable to locate specific information in this regard. What we can tell you is that regardless of the Moon phase, the phenomenon is "hole-y" untrue. You'll have the same amount of dirt no matter what phase the Moon is in.

    Do you have any information on the wonder egg plant? I can't find anything on the Web except other people's questions about it. It is grown from a seed inside one of those plastic two-part eggs and has some sort of edible fruits on it. I have seen it sold in drugstores in the past.

    The plant you're thinking of goes by the more formal name Solanum melongena and is a member of the eggplant family. The fruits, or "eggs," cannot be plucked and eaten -- they are very bitter. But you can prepare them in much the same way you would eggplants.

    At one time, The Old Farmer's Almanac printed a recipe for a homemade pesticide. It worked extremely well, but I have lost the recipe. Can you print it again?

    Certainly. In a jar, combine 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid and 1 cup vegetable oil. Shake vigorously. In an empty spray bottle, combine 2 teaspoons of this mixture and 1 cup water. Use at ten-day intervals (or more often if needed) to rid plants of whiteflies, mites, aphids, scales, and other pests.

    Why are the edges of the leaves on my tomato plant turning brown?

    If there have been numerous changes in temperature in your area, this might account for the browning. Cool spells can do this to plant leaves. If you think that's the case and more cool weather is predicted, you might want to protect them with some makeshift shields until warmer weather returns.

    What causes dew, and what makes it so dangerous to new plant life? What must the temperature be for frost to occur?

    Air can hold only a certain amount of water vapor. This amount varies according to the temperature of the air: The warmer the air, the more water vapor it can hold. When the air reaches its saturation point, the water vapor begins to condense -- that is, form a liquid. If the condensation occurs at ground level, the small droplets that are formed are called dew. When surface temperatures are below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), the water vapor turns into ice crystals. If dew has formed before the drop in temperature, the water droplets simply freeze. Both types of ice formation are called frost. It is the latter type that is so dangerous for new plant life.

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